Want to get your warrior on, but have no clue what yoga class to book? With names that are literally in a foreign language, it can be confusing. Yoga is for everyone, but you might not adore every type. It comes down to your vibe. Some practices are physically challenging, while others are so chill, you’ll spend most of the class lying down.
To namaste… and stay, sign up for the class that sounds most like you.
VINYASA OR POWER YOGA
Best for: building up strength with a side of cardio
If you’re a fidgety person who cannot (or will not) sit still, try vinyasa yoga. It’s a ‘fluid’ practice, meaning you’ll move from one pose to the next quickly and smoothly. No two classes are the same, so you won’t get bored, but sequences like the sun salutation will boost your strength, stamina and flexibility while getting your heart rate up. Your teacher will talk you through the poses, and there’ll be music playing in the background.
Best for: newbies, and those looking for a slower-paced class
For an easygoing class that’ll leave you feeling leaner, looser and more relaxed, there’s hatha. The goal is to connect your body and breath as you gently move through asanas (poses). You know how yogis always say they feel ‘grounded’? This is what they’re talking about. Since you have to focus on your breath as you’re balancing and bending, you’ll forget about any shitty stress from your day and get a good stretch in. The best bit: it ends with a blissful pose called savasana, which we like to call naptime.
Best for: recovering from injury, or perfecting your technique
Break out the blankets, belts and blocks – this class uses props to get into the proper position. Nicknamed ‘furniture yoga,’ Iyengar is a very meticulous style of yoga that’s all about mastering alignment. In other words, it’s a type A’s dream! Once you’ve settled into a pose, you’ll hold it for a few minutes – a long time in yoga – which is fabulous for flexibility. Iyengar teachers are seriously schooled on how the body works, so it’s great if you’re bouncing back from injury.
Best for: a deep stretch, and sweating out every single toxin out of your body
You either love Bikram, or you hate it. The 90-minute class is a set sequence of 26 poses that are held for 30 seconds to a minute each, then repeated. But here’s the clincher: the room is heated to 40 degrees. Needless to say, you’ll drip sweat for a solid hour-and-a-half, so don’t plan on going anywhere after class. In Bikram, you’ll not only flush out a ton of toxins, but you’ll be able to stretch deeper than you can outside of the sauna-like room. It’s also good for your concentration – after doing it, you’ll never nod off in a boring meeting again.
Top tip: Ditch any clothing that’ll cling to your body, like leggings, and opt for shorts and a crop instead.
Best for: sweating, and a satisfying stretch
Wait, isn’t this the same as Bikram? Not exactly. In hot yoga classes, the heat is cranked up, but to a more reasonable temperature: usually around 27-30 degrees. Don’t worry, you’ll still sweat buckets, sink deeper into each pose and walk out looking like you’ve been lit from within. You glow, girl. While Bikram is a set sequence, hot yoga just refers to any style of yoga practiced in a heated room. In most cases, it’s vinyasa yoga, but check with your studio first.
Best for: de-stressing and straight-up chilling
When you’re tired, anxious or just feeling lazy, book a restorative yoga class. It’s effortless – and we mean that. In class, you’ll use blankets, bolsters, blocks and straps to prop yourself into passive poses (like light twists), and then you’ll chill there for five or more minutes. It’s divine: you can feel the tension in your body melting away, and you get to zone out. Studios often offer this class on Friday nights, when everyone’s ready to rest.
Top tip: To target your tight hamstrings, hips, or neck from texting bae all day, try yin yoga. With a focus on flexibility, you’ll hold poses for 10-20 minutes to really release your muscles. Heads up: if you’re a restless person, this will be torturous for you!
Best for: a killer core workout, and upping your Instagram game
Being suspended from the ceiling in a cocoon of silk sounds amazing – and it is! It’s also a surprisingly good workout. Also known as AntiGravity Yoga, aerial yoga uses a hanging hammock to get into poses without putting pressure on the joints and spine. At the same time, you have to pull on the hammock to move around, which is amazing for your abs and arms. Hello, tone!
Have you ever seen those pictures of beautiful couples on the beach, where the guy’s holding the girl up on his hands? That’s AcroYoga. A partner-based practice, it combines traditional yoga with Thai massage and acrobatics.
STAND UP PADDLEBOARDING YOGA
Best for: outdoorsy types, and working on your stability
Sad seeing the sun shining outside the studio? To bust out poses on a paddleboard, search for SUP yoga classes in your area. Even if you swim every day of your life, trying to hold your balance while a board bobs in the water is hard – and super satisfying. As you move through the poses, you’ll use more muscles than you normally would, making it a brilliant full-body workout.
Best for: water babies, and people with joint issues
When it’s a steamy summer’s day and you’d rather be in the water than floating on it, there’s a class for that! Aqua yoga is low-impact and easy on the joints, but balancing can be tricky. It’s like a regular class, except the poses are modified so you don’t have to dunk your head underwater every two seconds. For the savasana, you float on pool noodles and it truly never gets old.
Best for: anyone who wants to downward dog to Drake
Do you pump your dirtiest hip-hop playlist when you need to zen out? You’ll love this class. An add-on to vinyasa yoga, it moves quickly to sync up to the soundtrack. Along with beats in the background, most hip-hop classes take place in candlelit rooms with no mirrors. That’s so you do you. If you can’t see that bendy girl gliding into poses on the next mat over, you won’t worry about her – and that’s what yoga is about!
Words by Katia Iervasi.